From its hub in Philadelphia to offices in
Northern California to outposts in Asia and back around to London,
Duane Morris may be taking a Ferdinand Magellan approach to legal
industry domination. The firm's specialties include litigation,
corporate law, intellectual property, business reorganization and
financial restructuring, employment and immigration, energy and
environment, health law, real estate and wealth planning.
Founded in 1904 by Russell Duane, a descendant
of revolutionary polymath Benjamin Franklin, Duane Morris has
exponentially grown in staff and locations from its early twentieth
century beginnings. Under the leadership of Sheldon Bonovitz, who
took the helm in 1998 when the firm held a legal team numbering
around 200, Duane Morris more than tripled its attorneys on
In recent years, the firm has continued to
strategically grow under current Chairman John Soroko. More than
128 partners have joined Duane Morris in the past 5 years. Back in
2008, Duane Morris hired a team of construction lawyers from
Thelen; the next year, it brought a group of attorneys on board
from Wolf Block. In 2012, Duane Morris hired 16 attorneys from
Dewey & LeBoeuf, expanding its insurance, energy and technology
practices in the process. A year later, the firm opened offices in
Silicon Valley-where its attorneys focus on patent litigation and
patent prosecution, trademarks and copyrights, venture capital,
private equity and related commercial litigation-as well as Muscat,
Oman and Yangon, Myanmar. Most recently, Duane Morris has set up
outposts in Shanghai and Taiwan. And in Spring 2017, the firm added
the six-attorney real estate team from Carlton Fields in Miami.
A Specimen of Study
Noting that Duane Morris tripled in size in
just 12 years, Harvard Business Professor Boris Groysberg
commissioned a study of the firm for his business students called
"Duane Morris: Balancing Growth and Culture at a Law Firm."
Groysberg found that, despite its rapid expansion, Duane Morris had
maintained its "Quaker values" along with an "unusually narrow"
spread between the highest and lowest partner compensations,
according to the ABA Journal. The study also noted Duane Morris'
practice of emphasizing lateral hires in its recruitment
In 2013, Harvard Business School published its
second case study of the firm, entitled "Collaborating for Growth:
Duane Morris in a Turbulent Legal Sector." The case study examined
the firm's success in maintaining its collaborative culture despite
economic pressures impacting the global legal industry, as well as
the firm's continuing expansion into new markets. The study
concluded that Duane Morris was able to maintain its "Quaker ways"
by keeping a "transparent, data-driven compensation system,
practice-group integration across multiple offices, and rewards for
attorneys who shared responsibility."
In addition to this, Duane Morris is heralded
as a leading law firm in the diversity efforts, having even earned
the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Innovator Award and
being among the first to ever name a Chief Diversity Officer. But
it's not all for glitz and glory; Duane Morris associates
participate in the annual Diversity & Inclusion Retreat, which
targets business development efforts alongside establishing
priorities of inclusion in all sectors.